Thursday, December 2, 2010

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

A Sea Shepherd communique (Dec.1st) has raised the tantalising possibility that the Japanese whaling fleet may have thrown in the towel... well, at least that's what SS hopes.
Normally by now, the butchery flotilla would be en route to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary but (at time of writing the press release) it still hadn't left port. The whalers have not officially said they won't be back in the Southern Ocean, but they are acting as if they may not be.
This could be merely a ploy, however over the last ten years the fleet has consistently sailed between Nov.6th and 19th. It's factory ship Nisshin Maru is still moored in Hiroshima. At this rate, they've already missed up to a third of their hunting season.
One of the Japs' problems is that they don't have a refueling ship: their usual floating petrol station was scrapped in August due to old age. The whalers have had plenty of time to find a replacement, but their challenge is finding a company willing to charter a vessel for the Southern Ocean, risk SS harassment and be associated with illegal whaling.
Go, Gojira, go!
SS's three ships Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, and Gojira will depart from Tasmania today. Gojira is the new name for the fast interceptor Ocean Adventurer and significantly, it's SS's first Australian-registered vessel, with Oz crew defending Oz territory and upholding the Oz Federal Court ruling. For the first time ever, SS will be ready and waiting in the whale sanctuary when the nasty Nippons turn up. The whaling fleet normally arrives in the Antarctic mid-December and starts the return voyage in March. So SS will be able to start it's campaign of harassment more quickly this year.
But for the first time in three years, armed Japanese Coast Guard officers will be onboard the whaling vessels to defend against SS interventions (a la Pete Bethune's boarding). Japanese weapons, coupled with SS's 'bullet boat' could make Operation No Compromise 2010-2011 even more volatile than last year.
That's assuming of course that the Japanese even come out to play... 
PS: 03 Dec.2010 - Down but not yet out, the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru left port yesterday.

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